TASmanian Sport & Coaching Collective
TASmanian Sport & Coaching Collective

Aaron Kitchener Interview

Aaron Kitchener

From a young age Aaron Kitchener has been involved in coaching hockey. Even as a year 10 student he was forging a path toward a career in the sport. When most young men were discovering partners, cars and potentially other distractions like beer, Kitchener was working hard coaching junior hockey players, umpiring high school games, and playing club and school hockey.
Now 22, Kitchener is about to embark his next big coaching challenge, leading the Tasmanian Under 13 Boys side in a home National championship in Hobart in September.
Kitchener gave us a little of his time at the annual Hockey Tasmania June Long Weekend Regional Challenge at the Northern Hockey Centre at St Leonards, Launceston, starting by telling us about the preparations for the tournament and the selection process.
“It’s been pretty good,” Kitchener said. “The June Long Weekend (JLW) has been a handy opportunity to watch kids play. “In terms of team prep, we haven’t done a great deal yet. “It’s about seeing what the cohort is like and it seems pretty good and that’s why we are looking to increase the amount we have involved.” Hockey Tasmania drew fire for changing the selection structure recently and reverted to the original process but Kitchener is keen to work with more than just the squad and a couple of train ons. “One from a development perspective and two because the talent is there to facilitate it,” he said. “This year we probably could have 30 odd involved and get a bit out of it which will lift the whole standard of competitions which is better for everything. “The more kids that are better, the better the standards will be.”
Kitchener, like so many pathway players, coaches, officials, and parents is no stranger to the JLW tournament and believes how important it is for the strength of hockey in Tasmania.
“I remember coming up here and playing,” Kitchener said. “I was always heavily involved in JLW. “By the time I was 16 or 17 I would come up to Launceston to umpire, play, coach a 13s team so it would literally be like I umpire and nine, play at ten, coach at 11 and then cycle through. “Other than under 13 and 15s when I exclusively played the last few years have been quite busy. “I remember my last 18s when I played, I player/coached as well so played my last year, coached that team and umpired as well. “It was mental. “From 9am when it started until 6pm when it finished, I was involved in every game.”
As mentioned, Kitchener started coaching a while ago through the Hockey Tasmania junior clinic and has progressed to State level.
“I started doing those clinics and then moved on and I still do that sort of stuff,” he said. “It’s good to get a bit of experience and move on to higher age groups.”
Kitchener understands the marketing of the game and had an interesting experience as a young coach playing hockey on the beach. Yep, on soft sand. “It’s soccer with sticks,” Kitchener laughed. “After I got back from an indoor tournament in January 2014 I went down to Kingston Beach for the Australia Day Regatta and HT had a stall there. “We were marketing the sport to the general public basically by playing on the beach with these big paddles. “Looking back it was probably the first major thing I had done in the public eye. “Since then in grade 11 and 12 I started going into schools and that broadened my confidence. “It’s easy doing a coaching clinic because It’s all hockey kids but marketing to those who are not at school clinics is totally different. “I remember being in grade four and the then development office Tom Beard came into my school and that’s how I found hockey. “So, I will always put back into that sort of program as I’ve got a lot out of it.”
Higher level, high performance coaching is something Kitchener has his eye firmly on.
“Everyone says they want to play or coach for Australia,” Kitchener said. “Ultimately, pipe dream, I’d love to get involved in the national system. “My first short term goal after the 13s is to coach some higher age groups like the 16s or 18s in the next five years and after that hopefully gain from credibility and experience and then do more state based stuff. “If I’m good enough to work my way up that would be great but if not I’ll be happy with state stuff in Tassie. “I’ve got an understanding of how people learn, I’m doing a psychology degree which helps with communication so with a satisfactory hockey knowledge, putting it all together I feel I’ve got enough skills as a foundation to do a decent job.”
Every coach faces challenges and Kitchener identifies personal challenges have been his hardest battle.
“In terms of challenges there has been personality challenges,” Kitchener said. “I’ve learned recently that coaches don’t really know what they do, how they act and they can’t accurately reflect on their behaviours which Is something I reflect on a bit. “Probably at times I’m too personable and can get the player/coach lines blurred because I have a mentality that I want to be everyone’s friend. “Sometimes that can be a thing. “The biggest thing for me is making sure I’ve got that professional relationship as well as a personal one.”
TASSACC applauds Tasmanian Under 13 Boys Hockey coach Aaron Kitchener for his attitude toward coaching and thank him for giving us his time in the middle of State selections.

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